|The Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte Emperor of France|
After many years of political instability, Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor of France in 1804. As the Empire period began, the economy boomed and a new haute bourgeois aristocracy who would desire fine furniture and decoration appeared.
|French Empire Solid Mahogany Bergères|
Empire furniture is usually large and architectural elements such as columns and pilasters are common. Mahogany and rosewood, as well as ebonized wood were quite popular. Furniture would be decorated with brass and ormolu and inlaid with ivory or mother of pearl. Upholstering was done with embroidered fabrics and heavy brocade, often in bold stripes. Strong symmetrical designs replaced ornate carvings and rounded romantic shapes. Chairs often had stiff, square or rectangular backs and animal claw feet.
|French Antique Empire Walnut Gueridon|
In its plainest form, Empire style is dignified and striking; however, furniture and decorative arts of the period are notable for exhibiting a confusion of motifs. Artisans of the time were still heavily influenced by classical Greek and Roman design. A Napoleonic campaign into Egypt brought back a desire for Egyptian motifs, such as sphinxes. Napoleonic symbols were used regularly, specifically the initial N, the emperor's monogram, and the bee (his emblem). Other design elements regularly found in Empire pieces are dolphins, swans, and mythical creatures.
|Empire Style Brass and Crystal Chandelier|
See examples of Empire style furniture in our inventory.